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1998 AUDI CABRIO: A TUETONIC TIGER @ 40 GRAND PER SEAT

by Bill Maloney

audi

SEE ALSO: Audi Buyer's Guide

Because the luxury car buying public has finally caught on to the build quality, hi-tech engineering and outstanding performance of all the vehicles in the Audi line the German auto maker can't keep up with the retail demand and as a result it appears advertising is really not needed. At least that's my reasoning for the lack of visibility afforded the really fun car in the 1998 roster...the Cabrio.

You just don't seem to hear anything about this neat four seat soft top. It's lines are not asswoopy as a Camaro or Firebird nor as aggressive as the Mitsubishi Eclipse but the car is unmistakably an Audi. Tough looking, solid and built like a Brinks truck, it exudes security and safe-at-all-speeds personality. Maybe the Audi marketing folks figured that as long as they were not going to run a lot of print ads and TV spots touting the Cabrio they would make it stand out in another way by initiating some wild, highly visible exterior paint schemes for 1998. They're calling them "cool shades colors". We drove one clothed in Pelican Blue Metallic and some other offerings are: Santorin blue, Hibiscus Red Mica, Tropic Green, Aqua green and Brilliant Yellow.

The four seat Cabrio is referred to as a luxury car by Audi and as the base price is $34,600.If you add premium wheels, walnut wood interior, Kodiak leather upholstery, and heated seats the outcome is with $500 destination charge, $40,500.00.

For 1998 the Cabrio received the usual suspension tweaks and gets a four position intermittent wiper as well as a four spoke steering wheel. This front driver is pulled by a six cylinder 2.8 liter motor putting out 172 horsepower and this is mated to a four speed automatic transmission that has adaptive learning capabilities...it learns your driving a shifting style. Scary. Being an Audi the trim little Cabrio exudes muscle...not muscle as in "muscle car/hit rod" but Mr. Clean type muscle: Dependability, stamina, confidence. The top is fully automatic with a single handle in the middle of the front edge to easily secure and lock the top in place...or unlock for that matter. It takes less than 30 seconds for this operation. This luxury sports car has all the goodies...air conditioning, power seats, windows, door locks, air bags, six disc CD changer and remote locking. Options include heated windshield washer jets and a back-of-the-seat wind deflector. Performance of 0-60mph at 10.3 seconds is definitely not Turbo Eclipse, Mustang GT performance but do you know anyone who purchases an Audi for drag racing. However it is electronically limited to a top speed of 130 mph and that should be fast enough for anyone.

The Cabrio now rounds out the 1998 Audi line consisting of the A4, A6, A8 and the highly anticipated A4 Avant. Now, who is going to buy this $40,000 convertible that looks identical to the Cabrio that was introduced in two years ago? The answer: Audi people...those discerning folks who know what Audi means.